Artisanal stone quarrying activities and its implications to health and the environment


All over the world there is a realization that quarrying activities has evolved overtime to mining industry that has the potential to provide hither to unparalleled services to management in their efforts to reduce effects of quarrying risks to the human being and the surroundings. This potentially has been turned into a challenge and embodied in the new definition of quarrying from the committee of sponsoring organization of the Tread way Commission on quarrying activities.

Quarrying in the mining industry is not a new phenomenon (Shrock, 2002 ) dealing with the effects of quarrying intermediation and its underlying principle (Scholtens and Van Wenveen, 2000) Globally virtually almost all quarrying industries companies did not have the immune to the unprecedented period of economic unrest. It therefore comes as no surprise that that the quarrying has negative impacts towards the environment which greatly impacted on the economic growth of most nations.

Confidence in institutions has been shaken by a series of quarrying collapse and resource exploitation in such quarries. Many factors have been put forward as a reason as a reason to this, but chief among them is absence of structured process/System of quarrying management. In most Africans nations, quarrying is not well managed for environmental sustainability. The methods used are very poor and there is no order is resource exploitation. Most of the quarries do collapse and there is no measures taken to rehabilitate to such quarries since most of them are left open. Therefore, the need for detailed study on the significance of quarrying management on mining industries has become inevitable. Since the effects of quarrying covers all tenants of effective strategic management, ethical corporate governance and ensures quarrying are managed in an integrated and structured manner that boosts institutions in quarrying performance.

Green Span (2004) asserted that “It would be a mistake to conclude that the only way to succeed in quarrying is through ever greater size and diversity”. Indeed better quarrying effects management maybe the only truly necessary element of success in quarrying paper thus therefore investigates the role of effects of quarrying on the performance of environmental resources.

Overview participation on stone quarrying

Feld man et al (2000) noted that participation provides a collaboration process by which community inhabitants reach common goals, engage in collective decision and create places and these places in turn served as materials expression of their collective efforts participation therefore implies negotiation rather that the dominancy of an externally set project agenda.

Thus, people become actors instead of being just beneficiaries (OECD), 1994 cited in (Morvixoxo, 2008). Stone mining involves the participation of stakeholders’, investors and the affected community. The land excavation has not being controlled by relevant authority, hence the municipality and peoples fully participated and exploit the natural resource without environmental consideration for their own benefits. Due to increased demand for stones, there is pressure on quarries by full participation by different stakeholders and communities which lead to environmental degradation. The collapse of quarries has been due to poor methods and high demand of stones. There is therefore need for the formation of new strategies by stone quarrying companies to address the issues and impacts of such activities to the environment.

a. Land Use

Land use decision ultimately weigh the inherit trade-off between satisfying immediate human needs and unintended ecosystem consequences based societal values, where the ecological knowledge to asses these consequences is a prerequisite to assessing the full range of trade off involved in land-use decisions (Defiles et al,2004)Destructive land use for stone quarrying imposes a huge economic cost on stone supply, land productivity and even water resources, infrastructure and ecological damage to ecosystem( Harji and Ibrekk 2001 ).

Land use activities were driven by the need for source of income to improve living standard and livelihoods. Stone quarrying, creates open space for bleeding grounds for mosquito which is a health hazard. A study by (Fierner et al, 2005) to monitor the effectiveness of quarrying indicated that quarrying leaving open spaces, where ponds emerged due to stagnating waters .Most of these quarrying leave the land barren where no productive activity can take place. A study case (Olson et al,2004 )on the root cause of stone quarrying on land use leads to land degradation and changing bio-diversity identified a number of critical process that play a big role effecting stone quarrying linkages to bio-diversity and land degradation. These process according to study play an important role in household decision making that affect land use and management, but are often overlooked in broad land use change analysis. Such process include national policies income diversification, gender roles and poverty levels .According to study by (Harji and Ibrekk 2007) on the environment and quarrying management, the study notes that poor quarrying methods, resources overexploitation, increases intensity, of floods and affects ground water recharge on such quarries.

b. Poverty and power

Poverty is blessed with a rich vocabulary in all cultures and throughout history (Maxwell, 1999) the start of poverty is of great concern. Poverty reduction remains the country biggest challenge in meeting the millennium development goals by the 2015 deadline according to the latest United Nations assessment report. Studies have clearly shown that there is in fact a link between poverty and resource degradation. (Shifaraw,2006,pg.6) reveals that in certain vulnerable system are the livelihood-environment link may develop into a downward spiral which demographic pressure is high and household lack access to appropriate technologies ,policies, markets and institutional framework. The further concluded that this limits adaptive responses and options available to resources users. And hence impoverishment and resource degradation would ensure.

Stone quarrying in most local African countries is promoted by level of poverty. Stones are over exploited due to lack of any other alternative methods of survival. The methods used in stone quarrying are usually poor and not well advanced. Most people encroach and scrabbled for the common resources. The link of stone quarrying and resource degradation is geared by poverty which needs to be paradigm shift in development focus in empowering people in resource management and environmental conservation.

Conceptual Framework of the Study

According to (Mugenda and Mugenda, 2003) a conceptual framework helps to show graphical or diagrammatically in the proposed relationship among various variable in the study, (Mugenda and Mugenda, 2003). The conceptual framework of this study is based on five independent variables namely, Land use, participation, poverty and environment.


Stone quarrying as an internal sector is a major contributor to the growth and creation of job in so many communities in Africa and needs to be supported both financially and academically through education .Most stone miners lack enough skills in quarrying as the study shown, those who engage in stone quarrying have not undergone any training and this poses an unhealthy conditions to the environment. Diversification of resources is another factor which leads to environmental sustainability. Most people only depend on stone quarrying and this has led to over exploitation. It has also created congestion in the quarry leading to land fragmentation, and rapid mass wasting.

Poverty is another factor; most people who engage is stone mining are poor in nature .The most privileged people in community use the poor in stone quarrying. They pay them very poorly. Most of them do not consider the environment when quarrying since they do not value it. Most of them seemed to have more employees working under them as apprentices reasons why they do not get time to come and claim as better workers as they had to keep a close check on their apprentices.

A follow up program by the government is necessary as it helps the quarrying consider environmental sustainability. There have been many trainings and polices programmed by NGOs geared towards environmental conservation but they did not go far as there was no follow up.

There is an urgent need for the stone quarry people to see themselves as “ business within the mining industry and must be forced to think strategically about its operation and relevance in demanding environment. 


To ensure that stone mining is done in compliance with environmental health standards, the following strategies need to be implemented as a matter of urgency:  

·         Firstly, government must take responsibility of controlling negative impacts of stone quarrying. This should be carried out by independent strategic plan so as to cater for its unique needs.

·         Secondly, the government legislation policies governing mining should be periodically reviewed to cater for strategic needs of community and in particular preserve the environment.

·         Thirdly for the dream of diversification of resource to be realized, the creation of employment, environmental education awareness should be capacitated. Further to this rehabilitation of used up quarries should be done so as to enhance quality environment.

·         Finally, strategies of increasing the number of skilled man power and improving conditions should be established with a view to motivating stone miners and other stakeholders.


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